Q&A: Matthew Thorne — The Sand That Ate The Sea


Have you recently been living by any life philosophy? No zero days. And, one that I owe to a good friend… he pointed out once that if you looked around at people in their 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s… people who had given heir lives to a craft, or to a purpose. That they very rarely were bad at it. It’s true for the shoe repairer down the road, in the same way that it’s true for the furniture maker – or the photographer. It’s like a trade – you ply it every day, and over a life, you become good. There is some peace in that. What will baffle future generations about our day and age? How much of what we bought we threw away. And how comfortable we were in our acceptance of imprisonment in that commercialism. How we walked away from handmade things, from things that lasted a life, from spending life growing taste – and appreciating fine things. And walked backwards into a material world that was just one step less individuated… while at the same time celebrating individualism. We really started listening to the man on the TV, and what he told us was good. My grandmother has furniture she bought when she was in her 20’s… I just don’t think many 20 year olds today will be able to say the same thing. And when I was in Andamooka, we were sorting through old houses looking for props, and items – and everything still worked. All these devices, all these tape players, record players, radios… everything. It all worked perfectly. That was a shock. Are you aware of any conspiracies? Only the commercial ones. What is it that interests you about photography? People, and how we catalogue moments in time. What is the worst thing about city life? Not all city life is bad. Sydney is just a particular offender. What part of the planet would you like to explore? Central Africa. What do you think is the most plausible of the supernatural? Most of it. If you had to align yourself with a leader in history, who would it be? I don’t know that it’s safe to subscribe entirely to the views of other leaders. We’re all human, and we tend to turn people into perfect beings, but all I’ve seen is humanness beneath that deification. And thats more interesting to me – more than how perfect we make people – I am interested in how imperfect they are, and how the overcome that to do sublime works. But absolutely the world would have been better if Trotsky had taken power over Stalin. Pick a field of science to be an expert within. Sociology. Or quantum mechanics.

What moment have you most wished you’d had a camera when you hadn’t? I think some of the best moments I’ve had, have been when I’ve been without a camera and seen a photographic moment. There’s something in the act of knowing that an image existed, and that your mind comprehends things in that way – to see still moments… that is sometimes beautiful. Choose a job you would be willing to do for free on the side. Driving taxis. Describe the most important photo you’ve seen. There are too many – and important to me personally, or to us as a society, that is a tough divide to decide.But important to us as Australians: Bill Henson and Lux et Nox. more in the reaction to the work – it showed us as Australian’s who we were pretending to be (tolerant, progressive, culturally accepting). in the vilification of that work, I think we saw we really were; regressive, conservative – and angry. Tracy Moffat’s woman in red – real Australian magical realism, which i think we’ve lost. And Max Dupain’s sunbather. It’s great form – and so un-Australian in its composition of australianism. It’s that image of the culture reflecting upon itself that is interesting to me – same with a series I saw. And Anne Zahalka’s The Bathers. It it such an early image of what we as Australia uniquely was – of how we were changing. And made in this moment of multicultural ideology, that was never fully realised. How often do you take other people’s advice? This will sound contrite, but it’s true: Always and never. Describe a personal hell. Mid-level marketing managers.

On what occasions do you lie? Being honest: Most. What was the last crime you witnessed? Police corruption and bribery. What is the best way to educate yourself? Curated life (Books, films, art… all), and new conversations. What is the next book you want to read? To read for the first time: Gabrielle Garcia Marquez: One hundred years of solitude. To read again: Tarkovsky: Sculpting in Time. What object do you want? A hacienda in Colombia. What object do you need? A warehouse in Eastern Europe. Are you satisfied with your level of physical strength? No. My father always used to say that the western world taught us to educate only the mind, or the body – but never both. He talked about the idea of the fat professor (which he was himself) and how it was as though they wished only to cut their heads off, and leave them to sit on lecterns pontificating. But that the Aristotelian education, was about the mind and its interaction with the body – some of the strongest minds I know often belong to athletes. Making films, and photography has led me into that also; educating the mind, but not the body. So no – that I have to change. Pick an historic moment from the last hundred years to bring a camera to. Moscow, during the fall of the USSR. Are impulses more important than consequences? This one is tough, there is a theory of human choice which explains that in a very real physical/physiological sense we are not consciously in charge of decision making – that the subconscious takes all of our actions, almost as though pre-promgramed through experience to always chose left or right in that moment of action. And also there is a more metaphysical theory that aligns the permanence of time as a 4th dimensional construct with the idea that then, should time be permanent and existent – that all choice is merely illusion, as any choice that was made, would always have been made. So I suppose we are impulse, and choice in a pragmatic sense. And consequences are just a simple eventuality. The draw from this is then that… All things that will be, always would have been. Which talent would you most like to have? The ability to function without sleep.

Matthew’s work is focused around the relationship between people, land, mortality and spirituality.

Recent work includes a documentary series “Positive Movements” shot in Baltimore and Philadelphia (to be released in 2018). Reportage photography series shot in Iran, and Russia. A book of images taken in Japan, “For My Father”, published via Palm* (UK). And a second book of images taken across South America, “Driving Too Long To Be Somewhere To See A Girl”, to be published in 2018.

Matthew’s film work has been shown at the Cannes Lions Festival, Young Director Award (Cannes Lions Festival), One Screen Awards (The One Show), LA Music Video Festival, Adfest & Spikes Asia,

And his photography has been exhibited in Melbourne, Sydney and Berlin.

To see more of Matthew Thorne’s work visit — Website / Instagram.